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After 2 weeks of mourning mama I decided to move on. I returned to Ibadan. At first the urge to leave Owena was because I was just tired of the many visitors. Many of which were hypocritical. Many who pretended to care; Mama Uche is a typical example. She was never in good terms with mum. When she visited, she talked and asked irrelevant questions; the questions where somewhere between sarcasm and mockery. I can still hear the echoes of her mean words, “will you be able to cope without her? Have you gotten a job now? Your siblings should not drop out of school” Her scorn was so obvious Emeka had to walk her out at some point. The grace she enjoyed was that I had made up my mind not to have an outburst with any other person since the one I had with my uncle.
Returning to Ibadan was also inevitable because I had to find a way to provide for my siblings. Bisi gained admission into the Federal University of Technology Akure and Tayo returned to school, he was in J.S.S 2. Before I left for Ibadan, I visited my uncle in Akure and he agreed to pay Bisi and Tayo’s tuition but insisted that I will be responsible for every other thing they will need. It was a fair offer, considering the fact that I had disrespected him some days back. He was generous enough to forgive and advise me. He also offered to accommodate my siblings anytime they are not in school.
His mourning wife expressed her condolences on mother’s death and I did same for her late son. I could not bring myself to imagine the pain she was going through, her eyes were swollen and red from days of crying. Every minute she sighed and shook her head vigorously. Many times I thought she would cry after those sighs but it seems she is past that. Like me, she has probably accepted her fate. Uncle said in the early days after his death, she would recount the story of how her only son has been killed in his final year. She would question God, asking Him why he didn’t take her instead of her son.
Few minutes later, their family doctor came around to check on her. I suspect he added anaesthetic to her drip tonight because he relocated her to the bedroom. My uncle entered the room and returned with an envelope in his hand,
“My poor wife, she hasn’t eaten or slept in days. I had to beg the doctor to come to her aid. I don’t know how else to console her. Take this token for your transport fare to Ibadan, and please, remember the son of whom you are. “Omo ti o n’iya kii gbegbo eyin, I will keep praying for you.” He handed me the envelope and hugged me. I wept as I uttered my gratitude, “thank you daddy.”
The first week I spent at Bade’s house was very boring. I just wandered around the house all day doing nothing; the electricity supply in their area was very bad. Bade and Kike had gotten few copies of my CV and were devoted to making sure I got a job. Whenever they returned home after work we sat outside and chatted about different topics before Bade switches on the generator by 8p.m. Kike was a homely girl, respectful and she was very nice to me. The house was a sitting room and one bedroom apartment, so I spent my nights on a couch. They weren’t married yet they lived as couples. I have seen a lot of that on campus, I wasn’t surprised. At least they looked perfect together.
On one of our evening discussions we talked about whether or not it is right for a man to hit his wife, a topic Kike proposed. I was quick to condemn the act,
“Any man who hits his wife is a coward. I think there are other subtle methods of putting a woman in order than turning her to a punching bag; I just don’t see any sense of decency in it.”
Then Bade asked in an offensive manner, “What methods should you use to put a woman in check?”
“Give her the silent treatment. Ladies love attention, it hurts them when they are being ignored, either consciously or unconsciously. Beating a woman isn’t just the proper way to do so.”
“So you’d rather be malicious than correct them when they are wrong?” Bade countered,
“No. Don’t get me wrong. I am only saying that…”
“That what?” Bade interrupted. Astonished at his reaction, I questioned, “are you seriously arguing in support of men that maltreat their wives physically?”
“No!” he raised his voice, “I just think it is better to slap some sense into a woman than to have her take you for a fool with the whole silent treatment palava.”
I couldn’t believe my ears, Bade used to be gentle and emotional. He sounded rather aggressive; I couldn’t fathom what had changed. I saw a disturbing look on Kike’s face but I wasn’t sure of what it meant, so I asked,
“Kike. As a lawyer, what is your take on this issue?” She took a moment before answering, “I think the wife should push for a divorce and a very heavy compensation.”
“What if they aren’t married? What compensates for the slaps?” I rebutted,
“The lady should quit the relationship.”
Bade stood up and walked into the room and Kike followed suit few minutes later. Neither of them said goodnight, I sensed that something was wrong. Kike came back after a while to inform about a job opening,
“I spoke to my boss about you. He wants you to come and interview for the position of a paralegal in our chamber. It’s not something official; I think he just wants to see you. Will you be available for 12 noon tomorrow?”
“Yes.” I answered emphatically. I was tired of being idle. I wanted to start from somewhere like Morenike proposed.
“Yes boss” I hailed Bade. That has always been our way of saying good morning. He threw his hand towards mine and we shook,
“How your night?” he enquired,
“Baba, the night dey.”
He went ahead to prepare for work. When he was about setting out, I put on my shirt and walked him to the junction as I always did. His house to the junction is a 15 minute trek, bikes weren’t allowed in the estate. I decided to create a conversation about the previous night, not the discussion, a fight. I had gone to switch off the generator when I heard them arguing loudly, it got worse when I heard slaps and struggles. At first I wanted to intervene, but I decided to stay back. I silently prayed that things don’t get out of hand; the guilt will haunt me.
“Bade. What happened last night? I overheard yourself and Kike arguing.”
“We had a minor disagreement but we have sorted it out. Thanks.” His reply was so astute I sensed that he didn’t want to talk about it, so I let it pass.
On my arrival I met Kike in the sitting room with a swollen face obviously due to slaps. I felt for her and I was so furious,
“Bade did this to you?”
“Yes. He has been doing it for a while now,” she replied with a smile.
“And you, what have you done about it?”
“What should I do about it? Leave him?”
The question was a tricky one, so I ignored it and asked her what happened.
“He said I made him look stupid by starting the conversation. He was particularly angered by your defence against physical violence.”
“I will talk to him when he returns,”
“Please don’t, it will only make matters worse,” she pleaded with me. The guilt weighed me down, “How do I stop this situation now?” I thought within me.
“Your friend is a lot of good things and a beast.” She sobbed, “After beating me, he forces his manhood into me against my will, as if that is a way of appeasing the beast in him. I am learned enough to understand that he rapes me whenever we fight. The next minute he is on his knees apologizing. Suing him makes no sense, I love him. I have decided to leave him. I am simply waiting for the right time. He doesn’t deserve me.” She concluded. I was speechless.
We went to her office together when it was noon and I got the job. The pay wasn’t much, but I could afford to save 20,000 Naira every month after my expenses.
We took a bike to avoid traffic on our way back. She sat between me and the motorcyclist. She was putting on a tight skirt that made her buttocks put pressure on my lower region. At first I drifted into silly thoughts, but I was quick to snap out of it the moment I realized my erection will give me up. It began to rain heavily; she began to shiver on the bike. We were almost home so we decided it was best to go home instead of hiding from the rain.
After changing into warm clothes, she came and sat beside me while we discussed my duties as a paralegal. We soon drifted into her personal lives, we discussed her past relationships and the horrible experiences she has had with men. I felt sorry for her. I told her about Morenike, and she advised me on how to get her whole attention.
“Can you please cuddle me? I am very cold.” She asked persuasively. I did reluctantly and innocently as we continued our conversation and laughed. Bade soon walked in on us in that position and he erupted; he rushed towards us and slapped her head against my chest. I became angry and pushed him away forcefully; he slipped and hit his head against the edge of the center table. Before I knew what was happening, he was bleeding profusely in the head and he began to choke on his breathe
“Oh my God! He is dying, help him,” Kike screamed.
Written by Femi Fragile (Twitter – @fragiletimbzz)